San Luis Obispo County supervisors Tuesday unanimously upheld plans by the Morro Coast Audubon Society to complete native plant restoration at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in Los Osos.
The restoration work had been appealed to the Board of Supervisors by the Morro Bay-based group Save the Park, which wanted a more thorough review of the environmental impacts of the work.
David Dubink of Save the Park said he is concerned that work parties would indiscriminately remove undergrowth from the Sweet Springs East portion of the reserve, which is the target of the restoration work. The work calls for the removal of invasive species, such as veldt grass, and the planting of native species on 3.5 acres.
Dubink said he wanted the restoration work put on hold until several environmental studies the Audubon Society is conducting are complete. Supervisors rejected the delay, saying they had confidence in the Audubon Society.
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“I can’t image the Audubon Society doing anything indiscriminately,” said Supervisor Bruce Gibson, whose district includes Los Osos.
The native plant restoration is just one part of the improvements planned for the 8-acre Sweet Springs East, which was acquired in 2008. Other parts include hiking trails, a boardwalk, scenic viewing areas and wildlife interpretive stations.
The appeal by the Save the Park group is the second controversy to arise in Sweet Springs East. The first involved a proposal to remove 120 large eucalyptus trees.
Eucalyptus is not native to the area and grows in pure stands, eliminating native plant species. However, the trees are popular for their scenic value and provide some wildlife habitat.
Last year, the Audubon Society agreed to postpone the eucalyptus removal in order to study the effect it might have on monarch butterflies.